Whenever the idea of an offer sheet is brought up, the two teams used most as potential targets are the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets. That’s mostly because they have several pending restricted free agents and will be facing almost insurmountable cap issues this summer, making them seem more vulnerable. There’s another team in that same situation though and they have the added benefit of being the best team in the NHL. The Tampa Bay Lightning already have more than $73MM in cap hits committed to the 2019-20 season and still have to reach agreements with several RFAs.
The biggest name among those pending restricted free agents of course is Brayden Point, who has taken another incredible step forward this season and now ranks tenth in league scoring with 81 points. The 22-year old forward is already in contention for the Selke Trophy as one of the league’s best defensive players, and leads the entire NHL with 19 powerplay goals. His star is bright, and should be the target of offer sheets if they are truly coming this summer as some are starting to believe.
Lightning GM Julien BriseBois isn’t worried. In fact, when speaking with Craig Custance of The Athletic (subscription required) this week at the GM meetings, BriseBois explained his confidence that the team can get a deal done with Point and stated he thinks “it makes sense for both parties.” The Lightning of course have plenty to sell a player like Point on, and even more if they end up going all the way to the Stanley Cup this season.
Tampa Bay is 17 points ahead of the next best team in the NHL and will almost assuredly lock up the Presidents Trophy in the coming weeks. They have an incredible +87 goal differential on the season and have lost just 12 contests in regulation. Any team extending a big offer sheet is likely one in the midst of some sort of rebuild, meaning Point would be taking a considerable step backwards in terms of competitiveness. Add in that Florida already enjoys some of the best tax rates available, and the Lightning have a lot going for them.
Still, a long-term extension for Point might be difficult to fit in without at least moving someone out. The Lightning have three veteran defensemen coming off the books in Anton Stralman, Dan Girardi and Braydon Coburn, and could potentially get out from under Ryan Callahan’s last season by finding the right trade partner. Still, the team must consider the fact that Andrei Vasilevskiy is approaching his own payday after his current deal expires in the summer of 2020, while the rest of the core is under contract long after that.
Again, there is little reason to believe the Lightning are in trouble and BriseBois certainly doesn’t think an offer sheet will be coming for Point. As New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero points out to Custance in the same piece, the player actually needs to be interested in signing the sheet too—it can’t be arbitrarily used as a predatory tactic.
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